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Walker Signs Law, Weakening Milwaukee County Board

Whitney Curtis / Getty Images

Gov. Scott Walker signed historic legislation Friday at Serb Hall, changing Milwaukee County governance.Under the new state law, the Milwaukee County Board will lose powers - such as the ability to take part in contract negotiations and land sales. At the same time, the authority of the Milwaukee County Executive would grow to include, for example, the ability to create new departments. Those changes will take effect right away.

Starting next year, the legislation will slash the board's budget and therefore support staff, and supervisory terms from four to two years.

Also in 2014, Milwaukee County voters will decide in a binding referendum, whether cut supervisors' annual salaries in half - to about $24,000, and eliminate health benefits for the county's legislative branch. If voters agree to those changes, they would begin in 2016.

Supporters of the new law contend the Milwaukee County Board has been overstepping its bounds for decades and impeding economic development.

Opponents chide state government for interfering in local affairs and giving too much power to one elected leader, leaving citizens with less representation.